Analysing functional genomics data using novel ensemble, consensus and data fusion techniques

Glaab, Enrico (2011) Analysing functional genomics data using novel ensemble, consensus and data fusion techniques. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Motivation: A rapid technological development in the biosciences and in computer science in the last decade has enabled the analysis of high-dimensional biological datasets on standard desktop computers. However, in spite of these technical advances, common properties of the new high-throughput experimental data, like small sample sizes in relation to the number of features, high noise levels and outliers, also pose novel challenges. Ensemble and consensus machine learning techniques and data integration methods can alleviate these issues, but often provide overly complex models which lack generalization capability and interpretability. The goal of this thesis was therefore to develop new approaches to combine algorithms and large-scale biological datasets, including novel approaches to integrate analysis types from different domains (e.g. statistics, topological network analysis, machine learning and text mining), to exploit their synergies in a manner that provides compact and interpretable models for inferring new biological knowledge.

Main results: The main contributions of the doctoral project are new ensemble, consensus and cross-domain bioinformatics algorithms, and new analysis pipelines combining these techniques within a general framework. This framework is designed to enable the integrative analysis of both large- scale gene and protein expression data (including the tools ArrayMining, Top-scoring pathway pairs and RNAnalyze) and general gene and protein sets (including the tools TopoGSA , EnrichNet and PathExpand), by combining algorithms for different statistical learning tasks (feature selection, classification and clustering) in a modular fashion. Ensemble and consensus analysis techniques employed within the modules are redesigned such that the compactness and interpretability of the resulting models is optimized in addition to the predictive accuracy and robustness.

The framework was applied to real-word biomedical problems, with a focus on cancer biology, providing the following main results:

(1) The identification of a novel tumour marker gene in collaboration with the Nottingham Queens Medical Centre, facilitating the distinction between two clinically important breast cancer subtypes (framework tool: ArrayMining)

(2) The prediction of novel candidate disease genes for Alzheimer’s disease and pancreatic cancer using an integrative analysis of cellular pathway definitions and protein interaction data (framework tool: PathExpand, collaboration with the Spanish National Cancer Centre)

(3) The prioritization of associations between disease-related processes and other cellular pathways using a new rule-based classification method integrating gene expression data and pathway definitions (framework tool: Top-scoring pathway pairs)

(4) The discovery of topological similarities between differentially expressed genes in cancers and cellular pathway definitions mapped to a molecular interaction network (framework tool: TopoGSA, collaboration with the Spanish National Cancer Centre)

In summary, the framework combines the synergies of multiple cross-domain analysis techniques within a single easy-to-use software and has provided new biological insights in a wide variety of practical settings.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Krasnogor, N.
Garibaldi, J.M.
Keywords: Gene, protein, expression, microarray analysis, pathway analysis, omics, machine learning, network analysis, topology, clustering, prediction, feature selection
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QH Natural history. Biology > QH301 Biology (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 12727
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2012 14:55
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 20:11

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